Critical fans, catty women, crowded dates: Falling in love on The Bachelor has always presented a unique set of relationship hurdles. But for Chris Soules and Whitney Bischoff, who got engaged last November at the end of his season of the hit ABC reality romance show, navigating the logistics of starting a life together may be their biggest challenge. Bischoff, 29, a Chicago-based fertility nurse, will have to uproot her life to move to the tiny town of Arlington, Iowa, where her fiancé, 33, has deep roots and owns and operates a profitable corn farm. But while other contestants balked at the idea of moving to a town of 429 people – even for “Prince Farming,” as he was anointed by the show – the bubbly blonde says she doesn’t see it as a sacrifice. “It’s always been important for me to stand on my own two feet,” she says. “But I would not have accepted the proposal if I wanted something different. I’m so in love.” The couple – who will spend the next several months in L.A. while Soules competes on Dancing with the Stars – sat down with PEOPLE to talk about their future.
Now that the cat’s out of the bag, what are you looking forward to?
WHITNEY: Being a normal couple! It doesn’t have to be fancy. It will be nice not to have any more hard goodbyes.
CHRIS: We’ve been in hiding! I want to not feel like anyone is in charge of what we do next.
Chris, you had a very strong connection with your final three girls: Kaitlyn, Becca and Whitney.
CHRIS: It’s not normal to fall in love with three women. But I was there. I was honest with my feelings, and I was honest with them. I had the good fortune of having a tough decision.
You said getting rid of Kaitlyn was like throwing darts. Were you really that conflicted about your decision?
CHRIS: Maybe that was a poor choice of words or a bad analogy, but it was how I felt. [In my mind] I was dating one person at a time; that’s the way it was to the end. They were the only ones in my life when I was with them.
You seemed like you really wanted it to work with Becca, but she couldn’t give you what you needed. What happened?
CHRIS: Becca had some challenges with commitment. She’s not ready to fall in love, and she’s not ready to settle down. Clearly I had strong feelings for her, but I had to start looking at it from a logical perspective. The more we talked, I just saw that it would be a tough transition for her, especially to even consider living my lifestyle.
Did Whitney seem more open to it?
CHRIS: After she came to my home and I saw how she reacted to being on the farm, I felt like I could see a part of her life being in Arlington. And seeing her with my family, I felt like she was a missing piece.
The idea of moving to a small farm town was a thread throughout the season [see box]. How important was it to you to find someone who could live there?
CHRIS: There is a part of me that is self-conscious about Arlington. Not everybody is willing to live in a community that small. It was an issue when I was on The Bachelorette with Andi [Dorfman], and it was always something that was in the back of my mind throughout the process of being on The Bachelor.
What was your take on it, Whitney?
WHITNEY: I was the last girl to go home with him, but maybe that was a little bit of an advantage because I got to hear everyone’s take. By the time I saw it, I knew it was going to be small. I can’t say I knew it was going to be that small, but I was prepared!
Chris, you had told Andi that there was an “opportunity to be a homemaker” in Arlington. Whitney has a successful career. Do you want a wife who works or who stays at home?
CHRIS: I want someone who has both, to a certain extent. Someone who has a career and is driven, like Whitney, and now wants to have the next chapter and be a mother.
WHITNEY: My entire life I always knew I wanted to be a wife and a mom, but I think it’s important to establish yourself and work hard. My career is something that defines me. It’s important to me, and it’s something I’m passionate about. But once I have kids, absolutely I would love to be able to stay at home with them.
CHRIS: I want Whitney to be happy – that’s most important, [whether] it’s working and raising children or being a stay-at-home mother. I think it’s a blessing to be able to stay at home. You can always go back to your career. [Dads] stay at home too, though that is something I don’t plan on being!
Will you move to Iowa right away?
WHITNEY: We’re moving to L.A. [for Dancing with the Stars] first. But I own my place in Chicago and don’t plan on selling that. I’m keeping my job, but I’ve kind of switched roles a bit. It offers me a lot of flexibility so I can work from anywhere. I think it will be a good transition for us to start the journey together in L.A., and then we can take the next step.
CHRIS: From L.A. to Arlington. A great transition. They’re similar places!
What do you look forward to about life in Arlington?
CHRIS: Building a family together is No. 1. And having Whitney be part of the farming operation. It would be a really cool thing.
WHITNEY: I have no plans to quit my job. I won’t lose myself in a man. But I know [farming] is something Chris is so passionate about. I’d like to learn about it, and I hope that our children can learn the trade as well. I think I look pretty good on the combine!
CHRIS: There are plenty of things you would look better than me doing!
Whitney, what will you miss most about life in Chicago?
WHITNEY: I have a great support system and group of girls back home. When it comes to my job or my friendships, anything I focus on I’m going to give 100 percent.
CHRIS: But we’ll get there in Arlington. It might take some time. What I love most about Whitney is I feel like we have not only a strong connection, but we have a partnership.
Will you have a long or short engagement?
WHITNEY: I don’t think you can put a time limit on something like that. We’re taking it step by step. When we feel it, it will happen. But I anticipate it working out. I plan to do this once!
Has it been hard watching the show? Chris kissed a lot of women.
CHRIS: It’s tough to relive hurting others.
WHITNEY: I actually haven’t watched. I lived it! One thing that I respect the most about Chris is that he did everything 100 percent. Does it make me feel warm and fuzzy inside [that he had strong feelings for other girls]? No. But is it a realistic thing? Yes.
What have you discovered about each other postshow?
WHITNEY: I’m learning things about myself because I’ve never lived with a man. In the morning I cannot speak before I’ve had two cups of coffee. We haven’t spent that much time together. We’ll continue to learn.
CHRIS: Whitney is who she is. She’s thoughtful and loving. And we’re both very real. So it’s been a pretty smooth transition in that regard.
What do you hope for your future?
WHITNEY: I’m looking forward to the life that we’re going to start. I think a lot of great things are going to happen.
CHRIS: We had this great love story that now we get to build upon. We can start with a new love story in real life. Whitney is exactly who I’ve been looking for for a long time. She’s what I’ve always wanted.